One in two small businesses lack basic recycling

Recycling is on the back burner for many small UK businesses, who say they don’t have access to the most basic recycling facilities.

At a time of global climate crisis, as nations look to governments for comprehensive plans to secure a green future – in line with advice from the IPCC* (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – a new study finds that half of the UK small business community are sleepwalking through landfills by not yet recycling plastic bottles and tin cans. In addition, two in five companies (39%) do not recycle paper and, worryingly, only a third use confidential waste to process sensitive documents.

Research from Novuna Business Finance reveals that good management of sustainability issues is not implemented by small businesses, as one in two lack basic recycling. The representative survey of 1,027 small business owners found that only 50% of respondents said they have mixed workplace recycling facilities – and 7% of small businesses recycle nothing at all.

Basic recycling measures put in place by UK small businesses

  • Paper recycling 61%
  • Mix plastic bottles/box 50%
  • Confidential waste 37%
  • Piggy banks 37%
  • Food bins 26%
  • Garden waste 24%

Recycling facilities come at an additional cost, and when asked what’s stopping the business from growing sustainably, 24% of small business owners admitted they don’t have the budget and 21% said they were preoccupied with the more urgent task of maintaining the business. afloat.

At a time of cost of living and supply chain price hikes, with inflation of up to 7% and fuel prices continuing to soar – 80% of small business owners said the government should step up and do more to help small businesses with advice on how to reduce carbon emissions in the community.

Hospitality businesses, in particular, use a lot of cardboard, plastic bottles, containers and glass. Yet research data suggests that many companies are still a long way from recycling. Only 46% of these companies recycle bottles and glass, and 61% say they recycle paper and cardboard.

A problem for some hospitality businesses can be convenience, as there is nowhere to put their recycling bins. For example, pubs and restaurants line busy streets, often with little or no private floor space for bins – and councils often prevent curbside storage. Brighton and Hove City Council, for example, as part of its T-Zone initiative, is threatening £110 fines to any business whose bins are left on public land outside of collection hours.

Joanna Morris, Head of Insight at Novuna Business Finance comments:

“The scale of the task at hand is going to require an immense amount of work from everyone, not just big companies, and it starts with getting the basics right first. As shocking as these findings are, the good news is that small and relatively easy changes on the part of small businesses could lead to really impactful and positive changes.

“We’ve seen other research we’ve done that small business owners really want to contribute to a sustainable future, but this research indicates that, for too long, small businesses have not been part of the climate conversation. . There are so many small businesses in the UK, employing so many people, that it is high time we started to see them as key agents of change in the face of the climate crisis. It starts with small steps to recycle and avoid landfill, and morphs into a bigger picture about renewable energy and managing an ethical supply chain. This research indicates what remains to be done, but at Novuna Business Finance we are committed to helping small businesses develop a carbon neutral and sustainability plan that is good for the wider community and makes sense for the results.